Most of my kids love amusement parks. For my three little ones, there is no ride too big, too scary or too fast (though the height restrictions sometimes say otherwise). As our family balloons to five children this year, amusement parks are becoming more of a luxury (all of those tickets add up). But what makes an amusement park outing even more challenging for us than money is our teen with special needs. Unlike his siblings, he's not a fan of rides, screaming children, roller coasters or that big bucket that dumps water on everyone's heads. So it takes a lot of planning to have a successful theme park experience with my brood.
Luckily, there are five wonderful theme parks near New York City that can accommodate my son with special needs while still delivering a thrilling time for the rest of my family. Most are within a two-hour drive of Manhattan (also good if your children with special needs hates being cooped up in a car, like mine). A few have park-wide special needs programs in place; the others host special needs-friendly days when the usual sensory triggers (all the screaming and loud music and lights) are kept to a minimum. Here are five special-needs friendly amusement parks near NYC.